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After three years, Ellicottville Ski Tree already a beloved holiday tradition

By Ginna Hensel

Black Friday deals, snow on the ground, decorations and returning college students are general signs the Holiday Season is starting.

However, in the eclectic and traditional town and village of Ellicottville, more personal holiday traditions are carried on, too.

A newer tradition has been around the past several years but is already a sight many look forward to each November: the ski tree next to the Ellicottville Historical Society Museum on Washington Street.

Ellicottville has had a tree in the past, but now with the new ski tree comes a new twist with the tradition. Several years ago, The Nelson Law Firm dreamt a dream to create something brand new for Ellicottville.

While it has seen a couple of different locations, the message remains the same: to bring the community together to make them proud of their home.  

The idea came when John Nelson and a friend were out west and saw a ski tree. Magnificently standing above the other trees gleaming with repurposed skis living their new life.

Since the previous tree in Ellicottville was nowhere as extravagant as the ski tree out west, Nelson and friends decided to bring a ski tree to Ellicottville. Thus, the decision to have a ski tree was born.

A community initiative began asking locals to donate their old skis to the tree. Having the community’s own skis on the tree brought a whole new meaning to the tree. When the tree was completed locals could look on the tree and see their memories. Skis on the tree held significant memories reminding community members of loved ones, childhood memories and good times.  

While Ellicottville’s first ski tree went up only in November of 2017, the tree is already expected to stand the test of time, creating a legacy.

“The intention was never to make the tree permanent,” said Nelson, the mastermind behind the project. “We did not expect as much community response as we received.”  

The tree almost was removed in the spring of 2018 when the Ellicottville Village Board passed a resolution to have the tree removed. However, due to the outstanding community support, the tree remained.

Nelson and his wife organized several events to help continue to fund the tree. The “Save the Ski Tree” fundraiser deputed in 2018, raising enough funds to help maintain the tree including moving the tree from one side of Washington Street, near where the old M&T bank is, to the other side of the street near the Nelson Law Firm is.

The second fundraiser, “Christmas in July,” debuted in 2019, raising even more funds to help cover the cost of new lighting.

This year, locals and travelers from afar can expect new strung lights on the tree. In addition, within the next couple of months, the ski tree in Ellicottville is on track to receiving the Guinness World Record for the tallest ski tree!

As you are strolling through the streets of Ellicottville this holiday season, do not forget to stop and check out the ski tree.  It is located on Washington Street between the Ellicottville Historical Society Museum and the Nelson Law Firm. Check out the new lights and skis recently added.  

Hopefully, this tradition will continue its legacy for this holiday season and many more to come.

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